Saturday, February 27, 2021

UFC 258: Usman vs. Burns Staff Predictions

UPDATE: Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller has now been removed from the main card.

Tomorrow night at UFC 258, welterweight king Kamaru Usman will defend his title against Gilbert Burns in the main event and look to break the record of Georges St-Pierre with the most consecutive wins in the division. Usman’s former teammate Burns will have something to say about that, as he tries to make history of his own by becoming the first Brazilian welterweight champion.

Also taking place on the main card is 22-year-old upstart Maycee Barber facing the dangerous Alexa Grasso and Kelvin Gastelum taking on Ian Heinisch in a bout between two ranked and highly regarded middleweights. You can view the full main card below:

  • UFC Welterweight Championship Bout: Kamaru Usman (c) vs. Gilbert Burns
  • Maycee Barber vs. Alexa Grasso
  • Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch
  • Ricky Simon vs. Brian Kelleher
  • Julian Marquez vs. Maki Pitolo

MMA News is the place to be for all the latest UFC 257 updates. You can view the full weigh-in results for the event here. Myself, Ed Carbajal, and Andrew Ravens have provided predictions for the card, which you can find below.

Julian Marquez vs. Maki Pitolo

Clyde Aidoo: I think this is a get-back on track fight for the Dana White‘s Contender Series alum Marquez. I think Marquez is still a major prospect at middleweight, even after suffering his first loss to Alessio Di Chirico in 2018. There are certainly some questions on how Marquez will look after a two-year layoff, but I think he’ll still be too physical and imposing for Pitolo, who is currently on a two-fight skid. (Pick: Julian Marquez)

Ed Carbazel: Pitolo is a former welterweight champ from his days at Victory Fighting Championship, and while he is coming off two losses in a row, he still shows championship effort. Plus, Marquez is coming off of a loss of his own. This fight might favor Pitolo based on his experience. (Pick: Maki Pitolo)

Andrew Ravens: Both guys are coming off losses as Julian had his five-fight winning streak snapped in his previous fight while Maki has lost back-to-back fights. I see Julian wanting to make a statement and get revenge that previous defeat. I see him getting a KO win here, as 6 of his 7 wins have come that way. (Pick: Julian Marquez)

Consensus: 2-1 Julian Marquez

Bobby Green vs. Jim Miller (Removed)

Clyde Aidoo: When you’ve been fighting for as long as these two men have, one of the first things to look at is career trajectory and momentum. For Bobby Green, he has won three of his last four fights. Meanwhile, Jim Miller has lost two of his last three fights. When you combine that with the fact that Green is three years younger than the 37-year-old Miller and the fact that Green has a noticeable strength and striking advantage, I’m going to go with Green, especially since Green has not been submitted since 2009, and that is perhaps Miller’s best path to victory. (Pick: Bobby Green)

Ed Carbazel: Both men are coming off of losses against pretty tough opponents, and while many think Miller may be coming close to the end of his career, he does not fight that way. Add that along with his library of tough fights and it makes it hard to pick against the other staple fighter out of New Jersey. (Pick: Jim Miller)

Andrew Ravens: A fun fight with some UFC veterans who are looking for a win. Green looked great as of late with a three-fight losing streak until he got outpointed by Thiago Moisés in his last fight. Miller, who always brings a tough and entertaining style, has been up and down as of late with trading wins and losses. I have to side with Green here, but it goes the distance. (Pick: Bobby Green)

Consensus: 2-1 Bobby Green

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Ian Heinisch

Clyde Aidoo: Ian Heinisch is a physical specimen who gives it everything he’s got each time out, but I think he’s in a little over his head here. Heinisch has struggled against tougher competition thus far in the UFC, with losses to Derek Brunson and Omari Akhmedov both by unanimous decision. Gastleum is better than both these men in my opinion and may even be the toughest stylistically for Heinisch with his striking skills and wrestling background.

Plus, after losing three straight, Gastelum’s back is against the wall, and I think we will see him fight like a man cornered yet composed, which is a lethal combo when in the hands of someone like Gastelum. (Pick: Kelvin Gastelum)

Ed Carbazel: Gastelum may have left the best version of himself in the cage when he lost a decision to current champ Israel Adesanya. He picked up two more losses after that and is in bad need of a win here. Heinisch is coming off of a win by TKO against Gerald Meerschaert and is likely favored to win by some. Still, a fighter with a string of losses is just as dangerous as a wounded animal. Gastelum has had enough downtime, and maybe this is where he gets back in the win column. (Pick: Kelvin Gastelum)

Andrew Ravens: Gastelum has fallen off a cliff and desperately needs a win here after dropping his last three fights. Luckily for Kelvin, the UFC has given him a notable fighter whom the hardcore fans know of. But if you’re a casual fan, then you would be overlooking Ian. This is a perfect fight for him to get back on his winning ways, and I see that happening with a dominating decision win. (Prediction: Kelvin Gastelum)

Consensus: 3-0 Kelvin Gastelum

Maycee Barber vs. Alexa Grasso

Clyde Aidoo: I love a lot about Maycee Barber, and I am compelled to pick her. But I think a major cause for that compulsion is the contrast in personalities here. Barber is the type to talk you into believing in her the same way she believes in herself. Meanwhile, Grasso is very quiet, reserved, and lets her fists do the talking.

I believe that Barber would still be undefeated if she did not suffer an injury in her fight against Roxanne Modafferi, so I’m still very high on her, but I simply don’t know if there’s many 22-year-olds in the world who can beat Alexa Grasso, especially the version of her that showed up in her flyweight debut last August. Barber is certainly a special 22-year-old, but I think Grasso is a bad matchup for her, as I don’t think she will back down and will instead put together better combinations than Barber. on her way to the win. (Pick: Alexa Grasso)

Ed Carbazel: Barber is coming back after a long layoff due to injury. The first fight back could be tough, even for someone as game as Barber is, and especially against the likes of Grasso who is coming off a win. Barber is a scrapper, but she might need to take a few bumps before getting back to where she was before her knee injury. (Pick: Alexa Grasso)

Andrew Ravens: A lot of people will criticize this fight for being in this position and rightfully so. On paper, this seems like an easy pick. Barber had her 8-fight winning streak snapped in her previous fight thanks to Roxanne Modafferi. On the flip side, Grasso has gone 3-2 in her last five. Barber walks away with the decision win. 
(Prediction: Maycee Barber)

Consensus: 2-1 Alexa Grasso

Kamaru Usman vs. Gilbert Burns

Clyde Aidoo: I firmly believe that Kamaru Usman is on track to becoming the greatest welterweight of all time. With a win here, he would have the first accolade to support this designation, as he would hold the most consecutive wins in the division’s history. When you’re as great as Usman has proven to be, it’s next to impossible to pick against him, even when you see a nightmarish stylistic matchup for him like Gilbert Burns. Between the inside knowledge gained through training, the jiu-jitsu to neutralize Usman’s wrestling, and the noticeable striking power he possesses in both hands, this will be a very, very tough one for Usman. But I can’t go against a man with the fight IQ and winning spirit of Usman, who is the ultimate competitor in the welterweight division. (Pick: Kamaru Usman)

Ed Carbazel: This one is long overdue, and both men are more than familiar with one another. With that in mind, it’s not a surprise that Burns is the underdog. However, what casual fans may not know is that even when Burns is not competing in MMA, he competes at the highest levels in jiu-jitsu. If the fight goes to the ground, he could have the advantage there. Usman has been dominant lately, and while he does know Burns well, he might be surprised since both men know they have to change things up. I’m liking the underdog here. (Pick: Gilbert Burns)

Andrew Ravens: Finally, we’re going to see this fight. If there are any doubters left of whether Burns is the real deal, they could be proven wrong here. As good as Burns is, I have a hard time thinking that anyone in the welterweight division can beat Usman at this time. Burns is likely the second-best fighter in the division, and we will see a rematch down the road. But the longer the fight goes, Usman starts to take over en route to a decision win. (Prediction: Kamaru Usman)

That’ll do it for the UFC 258 predictions. Do you agree with the MMA News staffers? Who do you think will emerge victorious on the main card? Give us your predictions in the comments below and be sure to stick with us for live coverage of UFC 258!